R. Kelly—Already Facing 30 Years In Prison—Asks For Lighter Sentence For Porn Conviction

Topline

Attorneys for singer R. Kelly on Friday asked a federal judge in Chicago to limit the sentence for the disgraced singer to 11 years in prison for his conviction last year on child pornography and enticement charges—the latest in a saga of legal issues following his 30-year sentence in a separate case in New York on sex trafficking and racketeering charges last June.

Key Facts

In a court filing, attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who represents Kelly, asked for the singer’s sentencing to be served concurrently with his 30-year sentence, arguing Kelly is already facing what amounts to a life sentence, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Kelly, 56, was convicted last September on six counts, including child pornography and child enticement, for allegedly coercing three underage girls into having sex following a five–week trial that included 34 witnesses—though he was acquitted on seven other counts brought by prosecutors on charges of receiving child pornography.

It comes eight months after Kelly was sentenced in New York City to 30 years after he was found guilty of violating the federal Mann Act, for trafficking women across state lines, with one victim saying she hopes he is imprisoned for “the rest of his life.”

Bonjean did not respond to a Forbes inquiry for comment, but said in a statement obtained by the Chicago Tribune the sentence “punishes Kelly for conduct that is over a quarter-century old.”

Big Number

90 years. That’s the maximum sentence Kelly faces in Illinois, with a minimum sentence of 10 years, just one year less than Kelly’s attorneys are asking for.

Contra

Bonjean has made the argument in previous trials that Kelly faced “horrific” sexual abuse as a child that “shaped him and provides some explanation” for the allegations of history of sexual assault and misconduct against him, clarifying Kelly’s history as a child does not serve as an excuse.

Key Background

The disgraced R&B star and three-time Grammy winner has faced allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct for nearly three decades, beginning with his marriage in 1994 at the age of 24 to late singer Aaliyah, who was only 15 at the time. Kelly also faced a lawsuit from his ex-wife Tiffany Hawkins in 1996 for having sex with her years earlier when she was under 18, which Kelly settled for $250,000. In 2002, he was charged with 21 counts of child pornography, but was acquitted in 2008, and didn’t face additional charges until 2019, when he was charged with 18 counts of abuse, and convicted in 2021.

Tangent

State prosecutors in Illinois last month dropped additional sex-abuse charges against Kelly involving four victims, including three minors, with Cook County Attorney Kim Fox arguing his 30-year sentence in New York and additional sentencing stemming from the case in Illinois have already indicated “justice has been served.”

What To Watch For

Kelly’s sentencing hearing in federal District Court in Chicago starts February 23. Prosecutors in the case are expected to file recommendations for Kelly’s sentencing next week, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Further Reading

R. Kelly attorneys ask for sentence of about 11 years for Chicago federal conviction stemming from sex abuse of teen girls (Chicago Tribune)

R Kelly news: Attorney asks federal judge in Chicago not to add to star’s decades behind bars (ABC)

Illinois Drops Sex-Abuse Charges Against R. Kelly Because Of Previous Conviction (Forbes)

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